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Retired FBI Official Michael Mason: Arming Teachers? Dumbest Idea Ever Proposed

Michael Mason is a retired Executive Assistant Director of the FBI.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Michael Mason
The recent mass shooting in Connecticut was an act of incomprehensible evil.

However, in the wake of this tragedy we need to ensure we come together to present thoughtful and effective ideas to reduce the probability of such an act ever occurring again. Arming teachers is categorically not a recommendation that should enjoy any consideration at all.

The probability of having an active shooter incident at any particular school is infinitesimally small. The ridiculous suggestion of arming teachers would actually increase that probability simply by virtue of putting thousands of guns in schools which today have none.

There is a huge difference between handing someone a gun and ensuring they receive the proper training to effectively engage that gun when required to do so.

Training is not a once and done endeavor, it must be continuous, and be required.  It is difficult enough to hit a paper target that is not shooting back at you.

Imagine the average teacher having to use that gun under the most adverse circumstances imaginable. We expect Ms. Jones, a great, compassionate, effective teacher, to now become an extension of the police department’s SWAT team?

We expect her to run to the sound of gun fire, through all the chaos and noise and effectively use that gun that has been locked in her drawer for the past 11 years? Really, can there be a more absurd notion circulating around the country.

Owning a gun and genuinely being prepared, psychologically and physically, to use it are two entirely different concepts.

I carried a gun for 23 years and in that time only experience one occasion during which I thought I was going to have to shoot another man. I did not think, “Go ahead…make my day.”

I clearly remember thinking, “Please don’t make me shoot you.” Although I was committed to doing so, I remain grateful to this day I did not have to shoot that individual. My point is that the concept of going from teacher one moment to effectively deploying deadly force in the next moment goes far beyond simply having access to a firearm.

The mass shooting in Connecticut absolutely demands that we address the issue of gun control. It is equally important that we not simply react, but rather engage in intelligent, thoughtful discussions to develop solutions that will genuinely impact this horrendous situation. Arming teachers is simply a dumb idea which deserves not a second more of serious consideration.



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Comment from policepiper
Time December 25, 2012 at 12:35 am

….and the controlling and legislating of weapons has always had the desired effect of criminals following those enacted laws? Your entire thesis is onr of an elitist attitude, in that anyone other than those who have received less training than yourself are thereby unable or should not be allowed to defend themselves….. You write and I quote, “The probability of having an active shooter incident at any particular school is infinitesimally small”, well I would venture to wager the probability of 4 airliners being hijacked on the same day, with selected targets was infinitesimally smaller, however needed changes were implemented at all airports. I would take not take this option off the table at this point in time, discussion is necessary, however merely legislating gun ownership will not lead to the safety of those needing our protection.

Comment from lgwatson
Time December 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

“The average teacher” might not be up to the task. However, training and arming certain teachers or school employees could be a viable option. Dick Fairbairn ( suggests that retired LEOs could be utilized as volunteer school security. The bottom line is that the presence of one armed person would at least give potential victims a fighting chance. I have been a LEO for forty years (county, city and federal) and have observed that one does not have to be an officer to handle firearms effectively in a self-defense situation.

Comment from edthefed
Time January 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Mike – I am with you 100%, as are the vast majority of people who take time to think logically about the issues, potential problems, and the fact that teachers and administrators have a most difficult job as it is. Unfortunately, as we see in a comment below, there will always be those who attack the messenger rather than the message. Following his logic, there is no reason to have laws against drunk driving, spousal battery, or (fill in the blank). Yes, we all know that laws rarely prevent the kind of criminality they are meant to protect us from. Arming teachers – let’s hope we never live in a world where that happens.

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